Honestly Gabby said nothing new when he went after the Ghanaian movie industry for failing to promote Ghanaian culture, contributing to a developmental agenda or even telling the Ghanaian story to the world.
With the exception of a very thin majority no filmaker is really selling Ghana in their movies. All we get are the same Prince falls in love with village girl, witches vs God or comedy movies which are far from funny.
We were all in this country when Netflix had to come all the way down here and tell the African story, doing what white people usually do which is portray a war-torn continent. If we could tell our story in a proper manner we wouldn’t have to let Netflix come and show the world what Ghana looks like – a portrayal which is so far from the truth it’s ludicrous.
Yet whilst all this is true, it’s ridiculous that Gabby, part of a government which has woefully failed Ghanaians so far (not to talk of even the Creative Arts sector), is the one trying to pretend the movie industry are resourced enough to do the things he wants them to do.
In response to the barrage of criticism aimed at him, which goes beyond the two mentioned actresses, Gabby has penned a new essay to respond to the criticism.
According to him, he meant no harm when he said that: “I took my time to watch randomly ten Ghanaian movies and never felt so disappointed. It brought home to me one major deficiency in our development. The apparent lack of deliberate consciousness on the part of the creative industry in the development conversation. The presence of the creative industry appears at best peripheral in Ghana’s development narrative. Our movies, our songs, our arts, by and large, do not impactfully plug into a greater development agenda.”
What he sought to do was provoke a debate, which he believes he has done, but not to denigrate the sector.
Read his response to the critics below…
“I hope I have provoked a healthy debate. It is not meant to denigrate but rather to generate a discussion about using entertainment more for development, social justice and education.
“There are many Ghanaian celebrities who use their influence in a positive way to promote a cause and we celebrate them. We saw many Ghanaian celebrities stepping out onto the streets during the pitch darkness of Dumsor to protest and we celebrated their activism.
“The debate I seek to provoke, however, is that we do not have enough filmmakers, musicians, etc, using their films or music, etc, to promote social justice, educate and entertain or to plug into a greater consciousness, like the theme Ghana Beyond Aid. How do we define that theme of consciousness that has resonated across the globe to effect change in our society and beyond? How do we use our creativity to change the mindset of our people from a culture of dependency and inadequacy to one of a confident AFRICA and Africans united in knowledge of their value and ready to push harder and smarter ahead? That is not to say those leading our creative industry are not good or brilliant in what they do. No!
“I am only calling for more Ama Ata Aidoos, Chinua Achebes, Spike Lees, and Ousmane Sembènes. Bob Marley, Nina Simone and John Lennon recognized the power of music and used their powerful voices to spread strong messages, to provoke discussions, to challenge stereotypes and to promote social justice. Solange, Common, Chance and even John Legend are such strong modern activists.
“I will end here with an instagram post by Questlove in 2014:
“We need new Dylans. New Public Enemys. New Simones. New De La Roachas. New ideas!” he wrote. “I mean real stories. Real narratives. Songs with spirit in them. Songs with solutions. Songs with questions. Protest songs don’t have to be boring or non danceable or ready-made for the next Olympics. They just have to speak truth,”